The neglect of Thanksgiving


Infographic by Joy Park

Siena Juhlin

When I was little, Halloween and Christmas were my favorite holidays. I couldn’t wait until I could dress up and run door to door and receive candy. I couldn’t wait until Santa came and I woke up to find tons of gifts under the tree. All my focus went towards getting candy and gifts, but now I realize there is more to holidays than just getting items.
In 1621, the Wampanoag Indian and Plymouth colonists shared an autumn harvest feast that is known today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. During that time, Thanksgiving was intended to acknowledge people’s gratitude toward everything they had, but now, Thanksgiving is much different.
In early November, Halloween decorations soon become Christmas lights. Social media is quickly littered with Christmas posts. Walmart and other stores fill with Christmas trees, wreaths and big sparkly Santa decorations. It seems that as soon as the costumes are hung up and all the candy is eaten, people quickly turn their attention to Christmas.
Christmas and Halloween, unlike Thanksgiving, are commercialized holidays where producers can make big bucks on everything and anything relating to them. The major companies sell and commercialize these holidays because consumers allow them to. People are so focused on materialistic things that it enables companies to promote neglect of the true meaning of “giving thanks”.
Today, families gather around a big table, eat a big meal filled with traditional foods, and then lay around and loath in how round their stomachs are. For me, this is how things were when I was little. Before my family was disturbed by fights and anger, we used to gather around a line of a random assortment of tables. Adults were conversing and laughing while the kids ran around giggling and waiting food to be set on the table. But, as time wore on, our family soon grew apart. Thanksgivings seem to just be another normal meal which was shared with the few family members that can still stand each other. Conversation seemed to be a rare occurrence because no one wanted to break the silence.
Despite the changes in my family Thanksgivings, I always noticed one thing. There was always an absence of thanks. No one addressed what they were thankful for or what they appreciated in their lives. It seemed like everyone only came together to drink some fancy drinks and converse over a huge bowl of mashed potatoes.
Looking back on my past Thanksgivings it makes me sad to realize that people don’t really acknowledge the “true meaning” of giving thanks. I may sound like a huge hippie but that’s honestly how I feel and that’s what this holiday was meant for. Thanksgiving wasn’t just meant for an excuse to overeat, but rather a time where people should appreciate what they have. No one should throw that opportunity away.
In the end, I think gathering around a table of food with family and friends is a wonderful thing, but we also need to acknowledge what we have. Throughout my 16 family thanksgivings, giving thanks was never top on the list of things to do and that needs to change.
We all need to take a little time out during Thanksgiving and recognize the things we have rather than the food we’ll get to shovel in our mouths or our future Christmas presents. Try to be less materialistic and think about the family around you. Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate everyone and everything around us. Simply telling someone how much they mean to us or putting thought into something you are thankful for can contribute to the spirit of this holiday.